OK so this is part rant, part attempt to explain how I like to do things. There is a trend these days for very pretty, soft, backlit shots taken in the early morning or evening, during golden hour. There is nothing wrong with this, it's great light and very flattering. I use it myself when I'm shooting engagements and even on model shoots. But I am bored to death with this style, I see it everywhere. It's always shot wide open, so you lose any sense of an awesome location, and it's just so...meh. How good the image is then comes down to processing techniques, and those Russian photographers have this nailed. Plus they seem to have an unending supply of gorgeous models with killer cheekbones. Anyway, I digress. I like direct light.
Many photographers believe you need to kill direct light with flash, but I don't agree. You just need to find an angle. This shot is one of my favourites of this year and was shot at 2pm on a bright sunny day using direct light.
Direct light will give you very punchy images and really bring out the colour if you shoot it right. And it will give you a look you just don't see that often. It's not easy to get a decent angle at midday, but at any other time it's possible to get the light shining more or less at an angle that won't create horrible shadows. You just need to work it. And then if you do get up early, or stay for golden hour, the direct light takes on a different colour and just looked amazing.
So, don't be scared of direct light, just find your angle:)